NHL 2017 Season: New York Rangers Pre-Season Overview
We’re getting closer to the NHL 2017 season every day, and as October looms, there’s still time to take a look at the teams this year, and how they are presenting in terms of players and potential performance. This week, it’s time to take a look at the New York Rangers, one of the more successful teams from the 2016 – 17 season.Last year the Rangers made it to the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season, beating the Montreal Canadiens in the first round, before being knocked out by the Ottawa Senators in the second. Do they have a playoff-ready team this year? Let’s take a look and find out.
How Has This Team Been Consistently Good for the Last Seven Years?
The Rangers are a curious team in the NHL. They’re regular playoff contenders, yet they don’t always deliver once they make it to the post season. They have some of the most talented players in the league, but at times it seems like they’re more interested in consistent team performance, rather than having the star playmakers that could potentially take them longer into the post season. For many, the Rangers always look good, but never quite on the level of winning the Stanley Cup.If stability and team work is what makes this team capable of getting to the playoffs, year after year, then most fans will be pleased at this year’s roster. Although there has been some talent moving out of the team, like defenseman Dan Girardi, forward Oscar Lindberg, and forward Derek Stepan, there’s still plenty of the core roster here to keep things stable. Even better news is that there are some talented new players coming into the team, some of which could make a big difference this year.
Most Important Additions to the Team
A trade with the Coyotes saw Antti Raanta leave the team, which means that there’s going to be a new goaltender on the roster this year. Ondrej Pavelec has joined from the Jets, and he should bring some strong defensive performance to this team. In his career he has maintained a save percentage of .907, but is capable of putting in seasons where his percentage is as high as .920. In the 2014 – 15 season, Pavelec played 50 games and saved 1245 goals from 1353 shots against. In the last two seasons he has had less time on the ice, so a prominent role with the New York Rangers could see him reaching the level that he was at two years ago.In front of the goal will be two new defensemen. Kevin Shattenkirk will join the team from the Capitals, along with Anthony DeAngelo from the Coyotes. Shattenkirk should be a great boost to the team. He’s one of the most competent defenders in the sport and he’s also one of the most unique. He has a strong mind for offensive plays, and that makes him a versatile player. He’s capable of producing power play points and that will be important for the Rangers as they look to go longer in the post season this year.DeAngelo is a talented addition, but he’s also a controversial one. Considered one of the ‘bad boys’ of the sport, DeAngelo has faced a slew of suspensions in his career. Not only does DeAngelo clash with the opposition, but he can also lack discipline when it comes to dealing with the officials. Despite some of the ill-discipline that he has shown in the past, he’s still a competent defender, and if he can keep himself under control then he’s going to be able to provide a lot of value for the Rangers this year. When speaking recently to the media, he said that “I’m going to bring an edge, that’s for sure. But what kind of edge, I guess we’ll see. You have to keep it tame, too. I’m a pretty soft spoken guy off the ice, as well. But on the ice, everybody gets passionate. Just have to be smart.”
Players Who Could Have Improved Seasons
Even with new additions, there’s still a lot of important talent that has already been in the squad. These are some of the players that we expect to see improve this year. Kevin Hayes tops the list, after having a disappointing season last year. He was one of the most promising rookies for the rangers, but then struggled throughout the 2016 – 17 season. This year he could get his rebound, and possibly his breakout season. He has better support around him in the wing positions, and that could make a huge difference. Brady Skjei had a great season last year, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have more room to grow. There’s more competition in the team this year, and that could push Skjei to produce even more than he did last year. Fans will recall that he made 39 points in the 2016 – 17 season, and in 2017 – 18 he could up that to 40 – 50 points. Development will be key, and there should be no problems with his motivation. Herik Lundqvist should also be able to improve this year. The highly paid goaltender now has competition in the form of Ondrej Pavelec, which should push him towards one of the stronger performances of his recent career. Despite his age, Lundqvist is capable of maintaining a high save percentage, and his experience and consistency should benefit the team this year. Even if he starts to decline in performance, he’ll be an important player to help younger members of the team to develop.
How Far Will the Rangers Go in 2017?
The team looks strong enough to go to the playoffs again this season. However, they still don’t quite look like a Stanley Cup winning team, or even one that will make it to the finals. This team is still balanced on the edge of constantly building their ranks, without going all in with star-player acquisitions. They’ll be a solid team to watch and will produce plenty of wins, but they’re still risky bets when it comes to the ultimate prize in hockey.
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